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Chelsea prepare to bid farewell to Wizard of Os

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, March 6 (Reuters) Blue will not only be the colour, it will also be the overriding sense of emotion this weekend when Chelsea fans mourn the passing of the king of Stamford Bridge.

Peter Osgood, the former Chelsea and England striker, died of a heart attack last Wednesday at the age of 59 and the Blues will hold a minute's silence before the home match against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

There will be a particularly poignant sense of deju vu about the occasion for it was almost 10 years ago that Spurs were the first side to visit the Bridge following the death of Chelsea vice-chairman Matthew Harding in a helicopter crash.

Solemn was the mood when Chelsea won 3-1 on October 26, 1996 and the tears will flow again when Spurs come visiting this Saturday.

Genius is a word used and abused too often these days in print and in conversation.

It is however an entirely fitting description for Osgood.

A sorcerer with the ball at his feet, the man often known as the 'Wizard of Os' was, in the nicest possible way, a freak in that it was so rare for a tall player to be so good on the floor.

Mention of Chelsea to a football fan of 40 or more and thoughts flash instantly to the dazzling number nine, the leader of the Stamford Bridge pack in the 1960s and 1970s and the embodiment of that successful, swashbuckling side.

When asked to sum up Osgood's worth to the west London club, team mate John Hollins said the striker never failed to produce the goods on the big occasion.

Few will forget Osgood flying headlong to nod in Charlie Cooke's pinpoint pass in the 1970 FA Cup final replay win over Leeds United, his two goals in the 1971 European Cup Winners' Cup final replay victory over Real Madrid or the impudent strike he somehow contrived to engineer while lying on the floor in the 1972 League Cup final defeat by Stoke City.

Osgood, though, was all that and more.

GREAT GOALS He notched 150 goals in 380 appearances for Chelsea but rarely has a bald statistic showed so little of a player's worth to his club.

Osgood was not only a great goalscorer, he was a scorer of great goals.

Television viewers watched him produce a venomous left-foot volley from the edge of the penalty area in an FA Cup tie against Arsenal.

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